Flulapalooza® History


Flulapalooza® was conceived as a way to test Vanderbilt's emergency mass vaccination plan. In the event of a pandemic, VUMC would provide vaccination to Vanderbilt faculty, staff and students. To test the feasibility of the plan and obtain accurate information on resources, manpower and logistic needs, we needed a strong surge of demand to simulate the patient flow needed in a pandemic. So, Vanderbilt having a competitive spirit, we decided to attempt to break the Guinness World Record for Most Vaccines Given in Eight Hours.

The previous record holder, Kaiser Permanente, had given 6,215 vaccines in Qualcomm stadium in San Diego, California. So we had our work cut out for us. We designed a vaccination clinic with 44 vaccination stations working simultaneously, in a tent centrally located on campus. Over 20 departments planned the event, including Occupational Health, Emergency Preparedness, Student Health, Environmental Health and Safety, Pharmacy, Medical Supply, Information Technology, Medical Center Communications, Marketing, Plant Operations, VUPD, Environmental Services, Traffic and Parking, Medical Center Events, Lifeflight Event Medicine, Environmental Services, and many others. Nurses and pharmacists volunteered to give vaccines. Others volunteered to entertain the crowd with music. Some even wrote songs especially for the event. (This is Music City, after all.)

The event was conducted as an emergency operations exercise, following the Hospital Incident Command System (HICS). Communications were coordinated through an Incident Command Center staffed by event officers and led by Incident Commander Pam Hoffner.

At 7am on October 12, 2011, Flulapalooza® opened to a long line of enthusiastic Vanderbilt faculty, staff and students. 8 hours later, we had given a staggering 12,850 shots, shattering the previous world record. To accommodate staff working later shifts, the event actually remained open for another 3 hours and over 14,000 shots were actually given on that date.

Initially envisioned as a one-time experiment, once the Vanderbilt community experienced a flu shot the Flulapalooza® way, there was no going back to business as usual. Since 2011, Flulapalooza® has continued as an annual kickoff to the flu vaccine season, the most efficient and enjoyable method of getting one's flu shot, and in the words of one participant, "Vanderbilt's Family Reunion."

Fun Facts:

  • Vanderbilt still holds the Guinness World Record for Most Vaccinations Given in 8 Hours.
  • Kaiser Permanente rechallenged the record in 2012, but because they combined shots from 48 venues, Guinness created a new category for "Most Vaccinations Given in 8 Hours, Multiple Venues."
  • Engineering experts from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the CDC conducted observations and patient flow measurements at the first Flulapalooza®, providing the Vanderbilt team with recommendations to further improve efficiency.
  • The average time it takes for a nurse to administer and document a flu shot at Flulapalooza® is now 55 seconds (down from 90.)
  • By continually improving procedures, logistics, and technology, we have been able to administer the same amount of vaccine using only 18 vaccination stations, rather than 44.
  • Distinctive Flulapalooza® stickers, handed out to participants who have been vaccinated, are highly coveted objects and may be prone to a "sticker curse."
    • At the first Flulapalooza®, only about 8,000 people were expected, so only 9,000 stickers were ordered. When the stickers ran out, a brief black market emerged in which coworkers bartered for stickers.
    • At the second Flulapalooza®, a printing snafu resulted in some stickers being printed with one color missing, so they just said "lapalooza." Some said the absence of "Flu" was a good omen!